Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cthulhu and the Crazies

I love Lovecraftian horror.

(That's a really awkward thing to write.  I went back and forth on it a few times, but "I like Lovecraftian horror" was just too weak.)

They're great, though.  I mean, Lovecraft is pretty much the go-to on that, obviously.  (It's got his name right in the genre!)  At the Mountains of Madness, The Call of Cthulhu, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, The Dunwich Horror, Pickman's Model, and The Shadow out of Time are all really amazing stories about the unknown.  With the partial exception of The Dunwich Horror, they all tell stories of an unfathomable universe of which humanity is a completely insignificant part.  We have no chance to fight back.  We cannot hope to defend against the alien things that exist alongside us.  We cannot hope to even understand them.  They are as beyond us as we are beyond ants.

There's one recurring element to Lovecraftian fiction that always jolts my suspension of disbelief, just a little.  The slightest thing out of the ordinary will drive everyone completely insane.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

When to Give Up (For Now)

I've read a lot of advice telling aspiring writers to never give up on a story.  I understand this advice, and generally it's pretty good.  It's easy to get bored while writing something, especially if it's a long work like a novel.  No matter how awesome your idea is, no matter how exciting your plot is, after awhile you're just going to get bored and want to do something else.

Ideas don't stop coming just because you're writing.  Hell, if anything, ideas come faster when you're writing.  It's extremely easy to lose track of what you're working on, simply because it's less interesting than the great new idea you just had.

Of course, the story you're working on was a great new idea last week, wasn't it?  When you first had it?  The idea just popped into your head, and you fell in absolute love with it.  Maybe you even stopped writing what you were working on at the time to give this great new idea the attention it deserved!  But now that you're a few days into writing it (or a few weeks, or a few months), you've started to run  head-on into the part that's called "hard work."  That part's not as exciting.

This brand new idea, though, wow!  You can already tell that one will just flow right out of you!  You'll probably be able to bang out a first draft in a day!

Is that possible?  Enh.  Technically. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Rewrite - Part 1

So, NaNoWriMo is over, and I've got some stories I think have potential, and others that don't. All in all, I've got about a half dozen short stories.

Well, I have a half dozen first drafts. That's significantly different than having a half dozen completed stories. So now what do I do? 

I rewrite.

The first law of first drafts is that first drafts suck. Some people write better first drafts than others, true. I'm sure there are some lucky people out there who write first drafts that are even worthwhile. Those people are proof that God loves some folks more than others and allows them to break the rules. If you're one of those, then I am deeply honored by your reading of this. You are very sparkly. Can I rub myself on you?

We mortals have to rewrite. Revise. Edit.

In that order.

Monday, November 29, 2010

NaNo Complete

NaNo Count: 50,359

Well, that was a close call. After all my confidence the other day, I went and had a family emergency.

Let's just say the last few thousand words are very poor, and leave it at that.

Well, that was fun. And a lot harder than I expected.  Which is even more annoying, considering that I expected it to be quite difficult!  This next month will mostly be editing, though I hope to finish at least two new stories as well. I think it's important to keep writing even when you're doing other things related to said writing. Spending an entire month doing nothing but editing does get a lot of editing done, but it gets pretty much no writing done. Since writing's the hardest part, well then, it's fairly obvious what needs to be practiced most.

One day, writing will not be hard at all. And then I will be a god.*

* It's important to keep your goals humble and realistic. There's a reason I didn't capitalize that "g."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

NaNoWriMo Update

NaNo count: 47,530

I'm definitely going to make it, which is nice. Granted, I've only attempted once before, but still. It's nice to know I can accomplish something like this if I really press myself on it.

I completed my story about the enhanced US agent fighting monsters in Chicago. I've also done the following concepts:

A man who lived his entire life on a small space station scrambles to fix it, as more and more things go wrong. As the story progresses, the reader finds out why he's the only one there.

A man has experience in dealing with minor magics here and there, and one day sees a fairy in the woods. He becomes obsessed with finding her again, finding out who he is, to the detriment of his family and village.

A knight on a great quest is gravely wounded, but healed by a beautiful forest spirit. As time goes on, he becomes so obsessed with the spirit that he abandons his great quest.

An elf girl, trained to bring in the spring with a ritual dance, is barred from it as she has committed anathema. She struggles to complete the ritual anyway, for the sake of her tribe.

I do recognize that two of those stories are quite similar. It's almost as if I finished one story, then realized it worked a lot better if I changed all the characters and the setting. Imagine that.

Right now I'm working on this one: A scientist who runs mice through mazes begins to lose his mind, thinking that he's in a maze, himself.

Overall, I'm satisfied with how the month has gone. I could have done more, but there's no reason to focus on that kind of thing. I am proud of several of these stories, and after a good bit of rewriting, hope to start submitting them soon.

Next month, expect plenty of posts about editing and revising! (That's the most fun part, right?)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bret Maverick is Mat Cauthon

I was watching Maverick tonight and had a realization.  Specifically, that realization that I went ahead and titled this post with: there is no significant difference between Bret Maverick and Matrim Cauthon.

They're both gamblers.  They're both exceptionally good fighters.  Considering that they spend quite a bit of time fighting for their lives, they certainly like fine clothing.  Maverick imports his silk shirts in all the way from Paris, for crying out loud!  And most importantly, they're both the luckiest people alive. Maverick doesn't even need to look at his cards to know he's going to win.

I just thought I'd throw that out there.

And yes, I know that there's a TV show.  But I've never seen any of that, so I'm going by the movie.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Villains - Part 2

Do all stories need a villain?

Well, no.

Sure, almost any story needs an antagonist, but that antagonist doesn't need to be a person. Since we are talking about speculative fiction, I should add that by "person" I do not necessarily mean "human." A villain can be an alien, a robot, a fairy, a sentient stone, a god, God, or an evil book. However, to be a villain, the antagonist does need to have at least the potential for personality.

Whether the villain has personality or not depends on how well you write him. In my last post on villains, I talked about this, why it's important that a villain be relatable. In this post, I'll talk about how a villain-driven conflict differs from others.